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Banbury Star Hilly 23

Today was second race of the season, Banbury Star Hilly 23 mile TT. I’ve done this early season race on quite a few occasions. One year was run off in a snow storm, leaving strong impressions of near hypothermia. This year, may be exceptionally wet, but it’s been mercifully mild, with very few frosts. Today, there was a stiff crosswind, but for early March conditions were relatively good.

start-line-2

at the startline in 2013

My pre-race routine was fairly relaxed. I ended up not doing very much of a warm up. I took my rollers, but the ground was too muddy and uneven to make it worth it. In the end I just rode rather aimlessly up and down a few different lanes. There’s probably a more scientific way to warm up, but that’s the good thing about early season races – there doesn’t feel much pressure. I made a last minute decision to get rid of  my leg warmers, though I still had three thermal undervests and two layers of gloves. Rain was forecast for later, and one thing I’ve learnt from doing Banbury star hardriders – you rarely regret being too warm in early season races.

I have a power meter on my bike this year. I only looked at it once or twice. It’s on my stem and requires considerable effort to look at it. After five minutes I looked at the power and it said 270 watts, I thought this was too low, so increased the effort.

The main attraction of Banbury Star Hilly is Sunrising hill half way along. On the way out you descend the hill. On the way back after 15 miles or so, you go up. It’s quite steep and there’s a sharp hairpin. This year, the council are mid way through resurfacing – so it was a very lumpy and bumpy surface. I had to take it quite steady going down as it was hard to hold on to tribars with all the shaking. On the way back, it was difficult in a different way. It would make a good hill climb course, but when you’ve been racing at threshold for 30 minutes, it’s a different proposition to do a steep climb. I grovelled up in my lowest gear, mostly seated in the saddle to improve traction – vainly trying to find a smooth bit of road.  There were a few local Banbury members out to give a shout. Once at the top, there is a final 4 miles. This was relatively fast. I was able to keep a reasonable power to the end, and finished in a time of 53.27. This was 5 seconds quicker than 2013, so a course PB by 5 seconds.

Given the slow descent, I was quite happy with the time. With W.Sybrandy and M.Clinton DNS, I thought that might be good enough to retain the trophy. But, a young rider Dan Bigham from Oxford Brookes riding for AW Cycles, did a storming ride to win in a time of 52.34 – close to the course record. I spoke to Dan after the race, he is aiming for elite triathlon events later in the year. So I will make no more sarcastic comments about triathletes on my blog! 3rd was D.Axford with a mid 54.12 Fourth was Joshua Jones, Cambridge University CC 54.57. It was a record entry, with 60 people entering this tough early season opener. It’s rather nice to see sporting time trials increase in popularity.

Overall, it was a good early season opener. Well organised as usual by Luke Souter and the Banbury Star CC. And for me a second. 2nd place of 2014.

Fastest lady was Marina Bloom of Rugby CC, who in the past has won the women’s 24 hour TT championship with 424 miles – so just a short warm up today.

My weighted power average for the  race was 280watts. In one sense, this looks disappointing (though I don’t have much data to go on.) One observation is that it seems much easier to keep a high average when you’re riding on your rollers. On a course like today, you’re always going up and down, being blown around by the wind. It’s hard to get into a rhythm.  But,  I suppose that’s why racing on the road is more fun, than riding on the rollers.

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